Buzzard Rock via the Appalachian Trail

  • Highlights: mountain views, bald summit, Appalachian Trail
  • Distance:  7.2 mile loop
  • Elevation change:  1,270 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate/Strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Elk Garden Trailhead parking on route 600/Whitetop Road near Troutville VA
  • Website: AllTrails 
  • Beer Pairings: 7 Dogs Brewpub-High Bridge pale ale & Scottish 80

The Hike:

Even though this hike is over 7 miles and has a 1,200+ foot elevation gain, much of the hike is gradual and is not difficult. From the trailhead parking lot, there are some nice views of Elk Garden and Mount Rogers across the road. For a quick warm up, follow the AT across route 600 and through the large gate. Free-range cattle graze in this field and you may encounter some of them as you follow the AT about .3 miles to the summit of Elk Garden. The panoramic vistas here are foreshadowing for the views to come at the summit of Buzzard Rock. Return to the parking area (make sure to close the gate so the cows don’t wander out of the fence) to begin the hike to Buzzard Rock.

Follow the AT south from the parking area. The trail is well marked with white blazes. The AT climbs steadily but gradually for about 2.5 miles through the forest. We saw many wildflowers on our hike but did not encounter any wildlife other than a few squirrels. The AT crosses over the road leading to the summit of Whitetop Mountain. The views open up at this point. Continue on the AT into a small wooded section and then the AT emerges into a grassy area. Buzzard Rock looms ahead.

The bald summit of Buzzard Rock has bountiful views. Buzzard Rock is the 4th highest peak on Virginia. Mount Rogers, the highest peak is in front and Whitetop Mountain, the 2nd highest peak is on your right.  A separate trail leads to Whitetop Mountain if you are so inclined. Retrace your steps on the AT, heading north to return to your car.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

7 Dogs Brewpub (360 W Spring St, Wytheville, VA 24382) is a small brewery serving up good beer and good food in a dog friendly environment. They brew small batches of beer and the beer menu changes frequently. On a recent visit we tasted the High Bridge Pale Ale which was pleasantly hoppy thanks to a generous dose of Citra and Cascade hops. The Scottish 80 is a scotch ale with a rich, malty flavor and a pleasant caramel character.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.